Alex Higgins: The Great Hurricane has passed
Snooker legend Alex Higgins was only great because he was flawed, according to Pokerjolt's own resident bad boy...
|by Bad Beat||July, 27th 2010||
Above: Alex Higgins: The Hurricane in his pomp in the 1970s
Compulsive gamblers love their own.
There's nothing more reassuring, when you're lying in the gutter staring at the stars, than to realise there's someone equally hopeless right next to you doing the same thing.
This blog is supposed to be about me losing money playing poker, but I've never been able to concentrate on anything for long.
And so, inevitably, my thoughts this week turned instead to The Hurricane, Alex Higgins, who has died aged 61.
He was my hero. My anti-hero. My kind of walking disaster.
Like me, Higgins regularly lost fortunes gambling, especially on the horses. Sometimes he'd blow more than £10,000 in a day.
But he refused to be bitter about it. He refused to be bitter about anything. Flawed, deeply, but not bitter.
Most interesting people started out as failures – Higgins began his career as a hopeless jockey and was released before ever having a professional ride.
He soon turned to his real talent, snooker, but his life just never settled down, even when he won the world championship at the first attempt in 1972.
He was soon being banned again and again, punching and headbutting officials, smoking, drinking, womanising, brawling.
His life was a series of accidental triumphs and inevitable mistakes. Chaos followed order, victory was chased, relentlessly, by disgrace.
He could be stupidly heroic, like when he played in the European Open on crutches, and plain stupid. Just ask the women in his life about that.
He won the biggest prize in his sport for a second time in 1982, tearfully embracing wife Lynn in a famously iconic moment on live television. The nation wept tears of joy with them. They were divorced within three years.
The Hurricane was, of course, a genius with a cue in his hand. Maybe, as Ronnie O'Sullivan has said, the most talented player ever to play the game.
But that's not why I loved him.
Alex Higgins knew he didn't belong in the gutter. But he could never, ever just let himself be.
I don't trust any man that can.